Everything starts with two women.
Rebecca Kane is beautiful, and kind, and soft-spoken, and sick. It's a sickness brought from the world outside Detroit's towering white walls. Treatable but not curable.
Sarah Chilton works in agriculture and she wants to fix the world. She often takes trips beyond the walls, to tiny struggling settlements. That will kill her, eventually.
She knows. She thinks it will be worth it.
Abraham Kane is charming, and charismatic, and right now he's only just started espousing the importance of trading in freedoms to make sure that people are safe. Some people see the writing on the walls and leave, down into the underbelly to join the people who never trusted Deluxe in the first place. Most stay, perfectly willing to give up small freedoms for the greater good. They don't want to end up like the Wastelanders beyond the tall city walls.
He sees Sarah as a kindred spirit, willing to sacrifice, willing to do whatever it takes. He is not drunk on power, yet.
Sarah discovers she is pregnant. She does not talk of the father, and most assume he's a Wastelander. When her son grows up, and the gene tests do not find a paternal match, he will think that too. He will fight to prove himself as Deluxian as any. And when Abraham Kane does not treat him as lesser, does not ever speak of who his father must have been, he will forget for a long time everything his mother whispered about not trusting charismatic men.
For now she moves to the West district, where there are service-complexes and factories. There is little residential housing, but KaneCo's presence is more diluted here than in central. It gives her a little independence. A way, however small, of distancing herself. She keeps working. The Kanes announce they are expecting a daughter. She works until she is bedbound. When her son is born she names him Michael, and she loves him.
The Kane's daughter is born, and she is happy and healthy. Her mother does not last very long, and her death takes a little bit of Abraham Kane with it. He loves his daughter. He wants to keep her safe from the world beyond the walls that killed her mother, from the rebels in the dirty undercity that could pollute them from the inside out. From everything.
Sarah keeps working, and sending what she learns about seeding a new world not only into KaneCo's vault but into the city below, and across the lake to New New York, and anywhere that will take it.
She rebels and pushes against Kane, hides parts of herself from him, keeps her son as isolated as possible from his propaganda. When her son is seven years old, she ventures beyond the city walls for one last research trip. This time she never comes back.
Michael become Mike, and he grows up still in the West district, in one of the orphanage complexes. The rumour that his father was a Wastelander haunts him, shadows his footsteps. He learns to smile past it, overcompensate.
When his genetesting says there is no paternal match in their databanks (and everybody is in KaneCo's databanks, everybody in detroit) he feels a hot flush of anger. He pushes that down, focuses instead on the fact it says he is strong, and smart, and fast, and a good fit for the Academy.
He sees a chance to prove himself and when Abraham Kane takes a special interest in him, he can forget that it ever mattered who his father is.
(In KaneCo's computers, the file for Michael Chilton says 'Mother, Sarah Chilton. Father, Unknown.'
At the highest clearance level it asks you for a password.
And says something different.)